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Finding Meaning in Time and Space: Periodisation and Taiwanese-centric History

In: International Journal of Taiwan Studies
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Evan N. Dawley Assistant Professor of History, Goucher College, Baltimore, MD, USA evan.dawley@goucher.edu

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This essay explores the practice of a Taiwanese-centric historiography that prioritises the study of peoples rather than states. It reconceptualises the manner in which Taiwan’s history has been periodised by moving away from political history to divide time according to major transformations for the main long-term populations of the island—indigenous groups and multiple waves of Chinese settlers—and their interactions with each other, the governing entities, and the island itself. It traces the differential processes through which people created and adopted Taiwanese identities. Though not a traditional state-of-the-field essay, it builds upon a body of existing scholarship and demarcates Taiwan’s history into four eras at three watershed zones: the 1650s–1670s, the 1870s–1880s, and the 1970s–1990s. It draws connections to the study of Chinese history and uses scholarship on United States history for insights into the incorporation of indigenous and minority groups into a single narrative of the past.

Historians, more than any other social scientists, are bound by space and time. Without chronology or geography, without a temporal framework and physical location to structure their research, historians can scarcely ask their questions, let alone provide narrative and analysis in order to answer them. From our own perspective, these close affiliations are among the historical discipline’s greatest strengths. Our concern with when and where things happen leads directly to our understanding of why and how they occur. To put it another way, it is only through time and space that historians comprehend the phenomena of contingency and change, of causation and continuity, and derive broad visions of the features that demarcate one era from another. Designations such as modern and its prefixed affiliates (pre-, early-, post-), imperial and its modifiers (early, late, high), and other pieces of chronological shorthand (medieval, classical, colonial, republican, etc.) are all the products of efforts to link particular sets of criteria with (often indistinctly) bounded chunks of chronology and territory. Say ‘Medieval Europe’ or ‘Late Imperial China’ and one immediately conjures up a general set of related years, countries, political institutions, and economic patterns, to name but a few criteria.

Up to the present, most scholarship has divided Taiwan’s past into four eras according to the breaks between ruling states: pre-Qing (up to 1683), Qing Taiwan (1684–1895), the Japanese era (1895–1945), and the Republic of China on Taiwan (1945–present). 1 These categories have not been inflexible. For example, the most recent era has been subdivided roughly according to the imposition of martial law—hence, pre-1988, 1988–present—with the first four years largely standing alone and revolving around the 2–28 Incident (Lai et al., 1991; Philips, 2003). Some scholars have also made a convincing case for treating most of the seventeenth century as a separate era, distinct from both what came before and what followed (Andrade, 2008; Wills, 1974). A number of edited volumes cross these chronological borders, although the essays within them are mostly more temporally restricted (Ahern & Gates, 1981; Heylen & Sommers, 2010; Katz & Rubinstein, 2003; Knapp, 1980; Morris, 2015; Rubinstein, 2007). Some scholars have transcended single regimes, although they have nonetheless placed either the states or the history of space, rather than the island’s inhabitants, at the heart of their analysis (Allen, 2011; Morris, 2010). These exceptions do not overwhelm the pattern, for at the broad level of a field of study, this quadripartite scheme has been dominant. It has foregrounded the structures and policies of states and the narratives of political history, and it has reflected and produced an overarching conception of Taiwan that has been consistent throughout: Taiwan is a part of some other history, it is rarely the subject in its own historiography. To be sure, a substantial body of scholarship exists in which Taiwan and its residents occupy the centre of the narrative, hold agency in historical events, and serve as the topic under analysis, and I build on much of that work below. Yet, as Ann Heylen and Scott Sommers (2010) have also observed, the overarching contexts have been the creation and alternation of Chinese and Japanese regimes, and the Taiwanese were most often portrayed as acting in response to external stimuli. With time divided according to ruling state, and with Taiwan’s geographic position perpetually at the frontier of somewhere else, it has too frequently been a case study for processes and policies of Chinese or Japanese governance and/or social transformation.

With this essay, I outline a chronological scheme that differs from this prevailing conception in two important ways: peoples are the core of the story, while states are on the periphery; and the criteria I use to differentiate between eras reflects the nonteleological processes through which, and eras when, different peoples became Taiwanese, rather than the change from one regime to another. This periodisation is, therefore, Taiwanese-centric 2 in that it proposes an approach that begins with those people and situates them amidst the forces and structures in relationship with which they developed and evolved their societies and identities. I do not argue for the abandonment of the existing hegemonic chronology, nor do I impugn the research or insight into Taiwan’s history provided by existing scholarship. Instead, I use an extensive—though by no means exhaustive—range of scholarly works as a foundation for my vision of Taiwanese history, and I argue that such a scheme is needed if we are to pursue research agendas that will push the field in new directions. I also draw comparisons to the historiographies of China and the United States to illuminate how we might reconceptualise Taiwan’s past, link our explorations to broader historiographical questions, and demonstrate that Taiwan’s history has relevance to students of other places.

The Power of Periodisation

Periodisation does far more for historians—and non-historians—than simply divide up the past into convenient, meaning-laden parcels. In addition to defining the focus of a great number of professional positions in the academy and setting the beginning and end points for survey courses, it also influences our understanding of developments within, and sometimes across, particular eras. To pick an example that, thankfully, no longer strongly informs the study of East Asian states and societies, although it remains entrenched in popular consciousness, the division between traditional and modern imposed conceptual limitations on both of these ages that skewed academic and popular images of the region. ‘Modern’ became defined as dynamic, forward-looking, and civilised, against which ‘traditional’ was viewed as hidebound, backwards, and unchanging. Moreover, because the temporal modern acquired a geographic affiliation only with Europe and the United States, the study of modern East Asia began as a search for evidence of Westernisation, ‘sprouts of capitalism’, or sources of causality that paralleled explanations of modernisation in the West. In this conception of time and space, change was never internally driven in China or Japan, it was always the result of Western impact (Cohen, 1984; Lewis & Wigen, 1997; Weber, 1964). This example indicates that periodisation is a form of power because the modern–traditional divide replicated the ideas of Western superiority that justified and supported nineteenth- and twentieth-century imperialism, reifying them within both scholarly analysis and popular understandings of global relations.

The power of compartmentalising history also affects the questions that we are able to ask about the past. To pick one relevant example, the classic periodisation of Chinese history was dynastic, a model that informed both the Chinese historical view—see, for example, the vertical charts prevalent in China and Taiwan—and the dynasty-centred scholarship that was the norm among China historians until relatively recently. This vision began with Xia–Shang–Zhou, ended with Qing, and contained all other dynasties in between in a largely seamless channel from one to the next to the next. History viewed in this manner revolved around the rise and fall of imperial lines, and historic change was always the result of dynastic policies, thus it was unnecessary to ask questions about such subjects as ethnic, mercantile, or gender history. A more fluid sense of China’s past that combines social, economic, and political factors has evolved into the current periodisation of Ancient, Middle Period, Late Imperial, Modern, with the most significant chronological divides placed during the eighth, sixteenth, and nineteenth/twentieth centuries. Decentring the dynasties allowed for a proliferation of topics considered worthy of studying and questions worthy of answering, even though many scholars have continued to specialise in particular dynastic contexts. This recent shift aside, the long-standing preeminence of political change as the determinant of demarcation for China’s past carried over to the study of Taiwan, for which both the prevailing dynastic vision and geopolitics inhibited the full development of a Taiwanese-centric historiography.

This essay addresses fundamental questions about how to approach the study of Taiwan and, in writing it, I unavoidably assert a form of power that seeks to influence the field. My intention is to broaden the range of questions and voices by providing an alternative system, one that foregrounds the histories of the people who became Taiwanese and looks at when and how they did so. In describing that uneven and contested process, I discuss the significance of, and need for, a more clearly defined Taiwanese-centric approach, and lay out chronological eras that bear many similarities to the existing periodisation. However, because I rely on the gradual accretion of historical factors, of which regime change is only one among several, I demarcate time according to somewhat fuzzy eras of achieving critical mass rather than precise years. After exploring the limitations of the established chronology and proposing a different working model, I will offer preliminary thoughts on possible approaches to, and questions about, Taiwan’s past. In addressing these goals, I make choices about which histories to prioritise, and I impose a framework on the past that has its own hazards and, I expect, critics; such is the nature of periodisation. Nonetheless, the existing prevailing scheme has limited the field in a number of ways, therefore alternative schemes are needed to open additional areas of inquiry and research.

Why a Taiwanese-centric History?

The present journal is a testament to the growing community of scholars who embrace Taiwan-focused viewpoints, varieties of which have been proposed over the past several decades. Ming Shi (1962; 1980; 1986) made the most noteworthy early attempt with his encyclopedic and exhaustively researched 400 Year History of the Taiwanese People, published first in Japanese, later as a full version in Chinese, and then in a massively compressed English translation. It is difficult to imagine a more comprehensive history, or one that more stridently foregrounds the struggles of Taiwanese against regime after regime, and it is perhaps for these laudable reasons that Shi and his work have enjoyed something of a renaissance of late among younger scholars and activists. Decades ago, sociologist Shaoxin Chen (1979) cautioned against the limitations of using Taiwan to study China, and some of his pieces on Taiwan’s population indicate the utility of taking a longue durée approach to Taiwan’s society. 3 More recently, in a brief but important essay, Yung-ho Ts’ao (2000) proposed a vision of Taiwan’s island history (Taiwan daoshi). He first critiqued the overwhelming emphasis on political history and the perspective of those who ruled Taiwan, which had led to the omission or limited examination of the island’s people. He then argued that, as an island, Taiwan should be studied in the context of its relationship with the sea, its interaction with global forces, and in terms of its own natural environment. Shih-shan Henry Tsai (2009) offered a fuller exploration of this sort of island history, positioning Taiwan, from the seventeenth century onward, at a crossroads where numerous states and empires vied for influence, without any ever fully incorporating Taiwan or its residents. As a result, Taiwan and the Taiwanese forged their own identity and their own path. Shi, Chen, Ts’ao, and Tsai all provide useful examples of a Taiwan-centred history, but none fully capture the Taiwanese-centric approach. Both Shi’s and Ts’ao’s historical visions are too structuralist—that is, external forces hold too much determinative power and the people correspondingly lack in agency—the categories contained within the title ‘Taiwanese’ are underexamined, all of these authors remain largely within the framework of political history, and none include Taiwan’s indigenous peoples as central actors.

The field of Taiwan history developed slowly, especially within Taiwan, in part because it has long been politically fraught. Under Japanese rule, the Government General supported a detailed study of Taiwan’s past and present, but principally to support an image of its own imperial successes (Takekoshi, 1907). During the era of martial law (1949–1987), the party state-controlled educational system inhibited the articulation of a narrative of Taiwan as a place with a history separate from that of China. To be sure, scholars undertook research on Taiwan-specific topics, as indicated by the works discussed above and as seen in the journal The Taiwan Folkways (臺灣風物, Taiwan Fengwu), which began publication in 1951, while publishers and municipalities issued an impressive quantity of Taiwan-based historical materials and new local gazetteers. 4 However, these projects privileged Chinese political history because they all framed knowledge of Taiwan as knowledge of a part of China, regardless of how the practitioners themselves viewed their work. A genuine field of Taiwan studies only emerged in the 1980s and 1990s as a result of the liberalisation of politics and the inauguration of direct elections in the legislative and executive branches of Taiwan’s government. Academia Sinica promoted that shift in 1988 when it established the first formal body for Taiwan history, the Taiwan History Field Research Office (臺灣史田野研究室, Taiwan shi tianye yanjiushi). The politics mitigating against a Taiwanese-centric history had not dissolved, for it took another 15 years for that first institution to become a Preparatory Office for the Institute of Taiwan History (臺灣史研究所籌備處, Taiwan shi yanjiusuo choubei chu) in 1993, and then the autonomous Institute of Taiwan History (臺灣史研究所, Taiwan shi yanjiusuo) in 2004, with a status equal to that of Academia Sinica’s 23 other institutes. 5

The slow process of institutionalisation was not simply the result of politics, however, it also had to do with a more basic historiographical question: what is Taiwan-focused history and why is it necessary? The field of Chinese history again offers a useful comparison. Paul Cohen (1984) famously argued in support of a ‘more interior approach’, as a corrective to what he described as the long-standing precedence of studies of China that took the Western experience as a norm and normative force. His intention was not to isolate China from global history, but rather to ensure that the questions historians of China asked, and the criteria that they used to evaluate historical change, came from within Chinese history rather than without. He pointed out that adopting this approach affected periodisation, as it diminished the significance of both dynastic histories and 1840 as a turning point. Cohen (2003) has acknowledged certain limitations of his approach on the basis of criticisms of the original work, such as the potential to divert attention from China’s foreign relations or to miss the ways in which external perspectives can illuminate as well as distort, along with a worrisome tendency even in China-centred scholarship to study change only in terms of movement toward a European-defined modernity. Nonetheless, on the whole, the China-centred approach produced a much more detailed, expansive, and nuanced understanding of Chinese history.

Cohen’s argument, state-centred though it is, suggests several key points about a Taiwanese-centric history. It is not simply a different narrative, nor is it a discursive identity, but rather it is a fundamental perspective that looks outward from Taiwan’s historical experience, and specifically the experiences of the groups who have become Taiwanese. It allows one to ask questions about that history rather than about manifestations of Chinese or Japanese (or Dutch or Spanish or American) states or societies. In light of the critiques levelled at Cohen’s approach, we must be careful not to disconnect the Taiwanese from international and global trends, because they were fundamental to the process of becoming Taiwanese. Indeed, while it is impossible to conceive of a Taiwanese-centric history without prioritising the place of Taiwan, it is also insufficient to look only within its territorial confines because many of the people who shaped that history were either themselves external to the island or drew on ideas and networks that extended beyond it.

A Taiwanese-centric history also permits one further historiographical result, which is that when one takes Taiwan—its social groups, political movements, economic trends, and so on—as the unit of analysis, it becomes possible to use it as a comparative case study. So far, I have argued that placing Taiwan at the centre allows for the examination of its particularities and its distinctiveness, and skilled practitioners of this sort of scholarship have generally emphasised Taiwan’s unique historical experience of multiple colonisation and separation from the system of nation states (Dai, 2000; Heylen, 2010; Ka, 1995; Lin, 1996; Lo, 2002; Morris, 2010; Wakabayashi, 1983; Wachman, 1994). However, if we think of Taiwan as a place like any other, we can see that understanding its historical experience has a wider applicability. For example, from the 1950s onwards we can view Taiwan as one of many rapidly developing economies, democratising states, or emerging civil societies. 6 In all of these instances, Taiwan is far more of a ‘normal’ case, and thus a much more useful comparator, than system-defining nation states such as the United States, China, or the Soviet Union. But these comparisons only become possible if we as scholars grant Taiwan’s subject position and the full agency that goes along with it.

Periodising Taiwan’s Past

To reiterate, the standard method of marking the turning points in Taiwan’s history has been according to political regime, thus the major shifts have been the establishment of Qing rule (1684), the transfer to Japanese sovereignty (1895), the restoration or advent of rule by a Chinese state (1945), and democratisation (1988). J. Bruce Jacobs (2016) has recently offered an important, even necessary, variation on this scheme, which he acknowledges is a restatement of the one used decades earlier by Ming Shi in his magnum opus. Jacobs follows Shi’s tripartite division of Taiwan’s past into what we might term the Pre-Invasion Indigenous Era (up to 1624), the Era of Repeated Colonisation (1624–1988), and the Era of Democratic Governance (1988–present). He subdivides the middle of these three eras according to the six different colonial entities that existed on part or all of Taiwan: the Dutch, Spanish, Zheng, Manchu, Japanese, and Nationalist Chinese colonies. Jacobs’s recognition of the common thread that ran through these regimes—all were externally based and ruled for their own rather than Taiwan’s benefit—is essential for conceiving of a Taiwanese-centric history. So, too, is his point that settlers from China gradually became Taiwanese rather than remaining Chinese, and the system he uses, which is organised around political history, remains more useful in many instances than the one that I outline below.

Nevertheless, an additional approach is necessary if we wish to prioritise the peoples of Taiwan. I have already noted some of the limitations of regime-based chronological conceptualisations, to which I would add that, while regime-centred divisions highlight the historical reality that each colonising state brought its own vision of its project and methods for realising it, they obfuscate two crucial points. First, although non-Chinese led the Qing Dynasty and created their empire through military conquests, these Manchus ruled much of that realm through structures and principles borrowed and adapted from Chinese predecessors, and by the second half of the nineteenth century at the latest, it was Chinese scholar-officials who diligently held the empire together. Second and more significantly, even though many of the people who moved to Taiwan from China came to identify with their places of residence there, from the indigenous perspective they were enthusiastic colonisers who frequently catalysed the destruction of indigenous societies. Moreover, even though these Qing-era colonisers subsequently joined the indigenous as colonial subjects of Japan, they did not seek common cause, thus the Japanese era was one of differential colonisation. The larger point is that focusing on the regimes makes it all too easy to miss the ways in which the same people both constituted and were subjected to colonial projects.

That observation highlights the most basic flaw of state-focused periodisation schemes: they do not always account for the significant organised populations, with their affiliated social structures and cultural milieu, that existed in continuity across the dividing lines of political history. For present purposes, these people have been, at the broadest level of definition, Taiwan’s indigenous populations and Chinese settlers. By using these broad categories, I elide the fact that they contained (and contain) within them distinctive groups separated by high degrees of variation in language, custom, history, and identity. Nonetheless, for reasons of historicity that I detail below, as well as rhetorical simplicity, 7 I will, for the most part, generalise in this manner, because it accentuates the fact that the dominant periodisation—although not Jacobs in this case 8 —either sequesters the indigenous populations into a subcategory of Taiwan’s history, or brings them in largely as objects of government policies and/or obstacles to different waves of settlement, as seen in numerous excellent works, mostly by non-historians (Barclay, 2001, 2005; Blundell, 2000; Brown, 2004; Ching, 2001; Knapp, 1980; Shepherd, 1993; Teng, 2004). 9 Creating a single periodisation that integrates both indigenous and settlers from China is challenging, in large part because the former were thoroughly othered by the latter over the course of several centuries, but a truly Taiwanese-centric historiography cannot continue to keep indigenous groups on the margins. This essay also does not fully succeed in centring indigenous voices, but it hopefully points the way to how such histories can be written.

Historians of the United States offer some useful examples of how bringing indigenous and minority populations to the centre affects historical interpretation. Ronald Takaki (1993), in writing one of the first broadly multicultural general histories of the United States, vividly demonstrated that incorporating more threads does not merely create a richer tapestry, it also provides alternate understandings of the past. For instance, the insights that race and racism have been fundamental to all eras of U.S. history; and that one’s view of the United States differs greatly depending on whether one is indigenous (a nation state by conquest), African American (the land of enslavement and oppression), or an immigrant (a land of opportunities). 10 In this regard, the distinction that John Ogbu (1991) draws between voluntary immigrant and involuntary nonimmigrant minorities is also relevant. Similarly, Daniel Richter (2001), in his work on Native American history, argues that a shift of perspectives drastically alters the historical interpretation. As the title of his book, Facing East from Indian Country, suggests, if Native Americans assume the subject position, then North America becomes the Old World; King Philip becomes a foundational hero on par with George Washington; and the European and U.S. expansion becomes ‘a problem to be explained, not an inevitable process to be traced’ (Richter, 2001: 8). One also becomes able to see that, in order to justify their expansion, white Americans had to erase their early interactions with Native Americans and rewrite the entire continent as a place untouched by human hands and thus in need of civilisation. Neither Takaki nor Richter offer new periodisations of U.S. history based upon their paradigm shifts. Takaki seems to remain within a conventional chronology, although with Richter, 1776 appears much less significant than the 1830s, the decade in which ‘the east at last ceased to be Indian country’ (Richter, 2001: 236). 11

However, other scholars of U.S. history offer some clues as to what a multicultural periodisation might look like. To begin with the standard version, Rogan Kersh (2005), in a recent essay on the periodisation of U.S. political history, observes that the chronological divisions went through a number of changes prior to 1950, but have remained relatively constant since that time, when Arthur Schlesinger, Sr., proposed 12 major eras. Kersh has little to say about how other types of history might be divided. In contrast, Allison Dorsey (2007) argues that beginning with the understanding that ‘black history is American history’ promotes a different chronology, one that consists of two broad eras divided by the decade of Reconstruction. Thomas Holt (2010), based on his observation that ‘ordinary people don’t live history as it is taught by historians. They live across our chronological divides’ (Holt, 2010: xvii), demarcates time in his study of the lived experiences of African Americans according to generation. These works, along with Richter’s, demonstrate that, when multiple racial and ethnic populations rather than political development are the subject under study, we must adopt new chronologies.

Further scholarship on the United States and the Atlantic world also suggests how we might incorporate Taiwan’s indigenous population and Chinese settlers into a single chronology. In defining a research agenda for both African Americans and Jewish Americans, John Bracey and August Meier (1993) emphasise two methods for integrating black and Jewish history into the story of the United States. They argue for organising research around the interactions between these two groups, as well as comparisons of their historical trajectories within U.S. society. Robin Blackburn (2010) draws upon Anthony Giddens’s idea of ‘disembedding’ (Giddens, 1990) when he argues that Atlantic slavery, as a feature of modernity, thrust both the enslaved and the slavers into new contexts that necessitated fluctuations in ascribed and assumed identities. 12 These insights are useful for a Taiwanese-centric history because they suggest that a periodisation scheme must be built, at least in part, around changes in the relationships between indigenous and Chinese, and later Taiwanese, in ways that recognise both the autonomous agency of the indigenous and the often destructive impact of Chinese and Taiwanese intrusions upon indigenous spaces. However, given the antagonism of those relations, looking at interactions alone seems insufficient for the creation of a unified chronology. A comparative approach can help, but only if those comparisons are drawn in the appropriate context. Martin Sklar, as quoted in Kersh, offers a useful point of reference:

Periodization means not the familiar device usually invoked for narrative or connotative convenience . … It means, rather, a constructive or a postulated definition of the society-type in question, the system of its social relations, with its historically evolving requirements, capacities, patterns of authority, and structures or relations of power, in its general historical formulation and in its more historically specific circumstances and stage of evolution.

KERSH, 2005: 519
In other words, as we build a periodisation for Taiwan’s history that centres the internally divided major population groups, in a manner that reflects Eric Wolf’s (1982) pathbreaking study of ‘the people without history’, we must draw comparisons in terms of their respective connections to the prevailing political and economic systems or regimes and, following Blackburn, the influence of global, transnational forces. To put it more concretely, we can divide up Taiwan’s historical time on the basis of when we determine that a critical mass of elements has been attained in the interactions between major population groups, the nature of their contact with dominant regimes and systemic trends, and the character or degree of their identification with, and effects upon, Taiwan.

With these criteria in mind, it is possible to finally outline my periodisation for a Taiwanese-centric history. Since the moments of demarcation are determined by a range of factors rather than particular instances of regime change or state transformation, there were temporal bands, instead of precise years, within which the accumulation of factors became significant enough to constitute a new era. I suggest that Taiwan’s history should be divided into four major periods, separated by three watershed zones located in the middle of the seventeenth century, the 1870s–1880s, and 1970s–1990s. Although there is significant overlap between this and the existing dominant scheme, the two differ substantively in terms of the histories that they foreground—social instead of political history—and in their methods of demarcation. At the centre are the contingent and temporally discontinuous processes of becoming Taiwanese, therefore I will refer to these periods as the Indigenous Era, the Era of Assimilation and Localisation, the Era of Taiwanisation, and the Taiwanese Era. Although I will describe some major features of each, my analytical focus will be on the transitional periods and the historical features that reached critical mass in those moments.

From the Indigenous Era to the Era of Assimilation and Localisation

Long before the island received its most commonly used names, Taiwan and Formosa, it contained numerous distinct and distinctive communities. From the earliest days of European and Chinese colonisation to the present, scholars have described, depicted, and classified the people who made up these social groups, and attempted to determine both their origins—when did they arrive in Taiwan? Were they from the continental mass, or the islands to the south?—and the scope of their migratory spread across the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Recent scholarship has stressed a prehistory of Austronesian dispersal, according to which some peoples who came to Taiwan from the continent eventually spread outwards as far as Easter Island and Madagascar, while those who remained became today’s indigenous groups (Bellwood, as cited in Blundell, 2000; Stainton, as cited in Rubinstein, 2007). A substantial body of research on this era, summarised by Jacobs in the same essay discussed above, indicates that the indigenous groups maintained extensive and sustained trading networks around maritime East Asia, and highlights the fact that Taiwan’s inhabitants have never been isolated. The socioeconomic world of the Indigenous Era was far from static, for it was characterised by a tremendous range of cultural and linguistic variation, sedentary agriculture, a highly developed trade in primary and secondary products, and shifting relationships of comity and conflict between villages and regions. However, from the available evidence it seems that trans-island unity was never achieved in this era, and it is therefore unlikely that the native inhabitants formulated a broadly geographic identity that we can describe as Taiwanese.

The ancient history of regional engagement intensified during the seventeenth century. 13 Economic interest in the products that could be obtained in Taiwan, both those native to the island or brought there from China, Japan, or further afield, and developing imperial rivalries drew new actors to Taiwan in greater numbers and for longer periods of time. Japanese, Dutch, and Spanish, as well as three distinct waves of Chinese, all arrived, with results of varying historical significance. Since at least the sixteenth century, Japanese and Chinese had visited harbours in the north and south in search of deer products and other commodities that they traded with indigenous groups and each other, and some Chinese established longer-term residence. Then in the 1620s, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) made a more permanent settlement at what is now Tainan, with the Spanish following suit at Keelung the following decade. For several decades, none of these trading activities and colonial projects fundamentally altered or constrained indigenous communities or their interactions, nor did they transform much of the terrain through agriculture or resource extraction. In fact, the Dutch had to adapt to the practices of intervillage diplomacy in order to establish their outpost. Moreover, none of the early seventeenth-century arrivals became Taiwanese in the sense of identifying principally with the island. The Japanese and Spanish efforts in particular were historical blips, the former significant mostly for connections drawn much later to Japan’s modern colonisation, the latter of interest principally for descriptions left of northern societies and to those who study Keelung.

From around the midpoint of the century, however, a variety of factors began to accumulate that would bring the Indigenous Era to an end and set the stage for a new epoch. These features included a steady flow of settlers from southeastern China (Chen, 1979: 377–389), the unprecedented political unification of a long swath of the island under a single regime, and the incorporation of the island into an economic system with an external centre of gravity. Dutch colonisation depended not merely on the ships, weapons, and market access of the VOC, but also on the importation of substantial numbers of Chinese who served both as intermediaries with the aborigines who controlled the sources of Taiwan’s profitable products, and as agriculturalists who sustained the growing settlements on the southwestern coast. Thus, as a result of Dutch policies, the first wave of Chinese gained what became a permanent presence on Taiwan. By removing the Spanish from Keelung in 1642, and setting up their own outpost, the VOC became the first entity to administer and draw from most of the western coast. When Zheng Chenggong (i.e., Koxinga) in turn expelled the Dutch 20 years later, he and his descendants reconstituted their trans-island rule, but with a Chinese-style administrative system, and brought a second wave of Chinese settlement. The scale and scope of changes to Taiwan’s human composition, administrative structures, and methods of economic activity reached a tipping point. Around the 1670s, Chinese settlers approached or surpassed the indigenous population numerically, 14 and their practice of hunting and sedentary agriculture began to transform both the local economy and the ecology. Indigenous groups met the Chinese advance in a variety of ways, with some actively or passively resisting it, others being absorbed by it, and still others moving from the lowland areas to higher elevations where they sometimes clashed with existing populations. The reestablishment of a unified state institution under Zheng leadership, with control over an area from Keelung in the north to south of Tainan, institutionalised both amicable and conflictual relations between Chinese and indigenous, as well as governing practices (land registration and taxation, for example) that changed the nature of the human presence in Taiwan. In short, even before the Qing conquest of 1684, Chinese settlers had joined indigenous peoples as residents with a presence sufficient enough to define the character of Taiwan’s society and affect aspects of its environment. Thus, the Indigenous Era had closed and a new era had opened.

From the Era of Assimilation and Localisation to the Era of Taiwanisation

As suggested by the name of the second epoch, the two most important processes were the transformation of some indigenous populations under the influence of Chinese administration and culture, and the development of a strong, even primary, identification between Chinese settlers and their homes in Taiwan. Thus, some of Taiwan’s aborigines became assimilated by the Chinese settlers, many of whom also became localised to places on the island.

This formulation is immediately problematic in certain ways and so requires clarification. First, my phrasing reflects the primary definition of assimilation, at least in English-language scholarship: it has almost invariably been seen as a unidirectional process of Sinicisation, in which indigenous became Chinese by assuming an official designation as Han—what Melissa Brown (2004) has termed the ‘short route to Han’—or by adopting Chinese cultural norms. This latter method produced separate categories of ‘raw’ and ‘cooked’ aborigines (生番, shengfan; 熟番, shufan) as detailed by Emma Teng (2004), as well as added former indigenous peoples to the Chinese population. This conception of assimilation tends to hide the intended or accidental destruction of indigenous communities by Chinese settlers and does not ascribe historical significance to the survival of indigenous cultures, or elements thereof. These shortcomings arise from the Sino-centric historiography that has influenced the study of Taiwan because, in the field of Chinese history, Chinese culture is usually accorded dominant status, such that non-Chinese can become Chinese, 15 while Chinese absorb and nativise previously non-Chinese elements and do not cease to be Chinese. Moreover, my use of the term ‘Chinese settler’ may be contentious because it connotes an intention to remain, rather than the plan to eventually return to the native place that informs the terms sojourners or migrants, which are commonly applied to Chinese who move around within or beyond the state’s territory (Kuhn, 2008; Wakeman & Yeh, 1992). There is, thus, a post facto element to my decision to refer to these people as settlers, which reflects the reality that, regardless of intent, either the first or subsequent generations became permanent residents of Taiwan. In light of these issues, we must remember that many of Taiwan’s aborigines experienced very little cultural transformation even as they interacted and often lived with the newer arrivals, while Chinese settlers transformed their identities as they became rooted in Taiwan. From a Taiwanese-centred perspective, cultural transformation and identity construction defined the second era and fundamentally altered the relationship between Taiwan and its inhabitants.

In concrete terms, we can point to several significant developments that drove, or rather mutually reinforced, the larger historical trajectories. 16 A seemingly inexorable increase in the settler population overwhelmed Qing efforts to limit the movement of people across the Taiwan Straits, as seen in the eventual decision to rescind bans on the migration of women and families by the early nineteenth century. These people quickly and in substantial numbers moved north and south of their initial settlements in and around contemporary Tainan County, and also gradually pushed inland across the plains and into the lower hills and mountains. As they moved, they encroached on indigenous lands in express contravention of Qing policies that sought to minimise conflict between the two groups, out of fiscal rather than protective concerns. Land ownership regulations prioritised the interests of indigenous people as ultimately entitled to much of the territory in question, but the often aggressive settlers nevertheless provoked numerous disputes. Chinese not only clashed with the natives, they also frequently fought against the state that attempted to constrain their range of habitation, in both small incidents and large-scale uprisings such as the Lin Shuangwen Rebellion (1787–1788) that briefly threatened to separate Taiwan from Qing territory. Many aborigines of the plains (平埔族, pingpuzu) assumed a Chinese administrative classification in order to take advantage of tax laws that benefited the settlers, but many others refused to make either this accommodation or major changes to their sociocultural practices. In fact, in some cases, particular groups reaffirmed their autonomy by aiding the Qing government in its military campaigns against the uprisings.

The net results of the first 150 years of Qing rule, or Chinese colonisation, of Taiwan were threefold. In ways both material and mental, Taiwan became Chinese. That is, the built environment, agricultural practices, political structures, trade networks, belief systems, and literati culture installed over a significant portion of the inhabited parts of the island gave it a broad similarity to much of the rest of Qing China. There was a particularly high degree of overlap with the southeastern regions of Fujian and Guangdong from which the Hoklo and Hakka settlers originated. Their sedentary agriculture deforested portions of the island and long-term hunting decimated the deer population, their walled settlements contrasted sharply with the bamboo-protected indigenous villages, and the Qing bureaucratic and military institutions spread political unity to an unprecedented territorial extent. However, large portions of the island remained outside of effective Qing control and avoided substantial Chinese habitation, in part by design and in part from the resistance of the indigenous. While many indigenous groups succumbed to either the military or cultural strength of China, others maintained control over much of the island’s terrain to the extent that, as late as the early 1870s, the Qing government insisted that the eastern portion was outside of its sovereign territory (Eskildsen, 2002). Finally, economic activities, the installation of deities, the burial of the deceased in Taiwan rather than returning their remains to native places, and the frequent conflict with the Qing state all pushed the settlers to identify more and more strongly with their current place of residence. That localisation was a necessary precursor for the future Taiwanisation of the Chinese, while the divergent paths of assimilation and separation followed by the indigenous populations ensured that inhabitants became Taiwanese in alternate ways and at different speeds.

However, these processes did not reach a critical threshold until the last decades of Qing rule, specifically during the period from the 1870s into the 1880s, when several further developments prompted a shift from one era to the next. The extension of the treaty port system to Taiwan brought little Western impact on the island, although it produced both a wealth of new information about indigenous groups and dramatic results for those converted by missionaries or healed by Dr. George McKay and his local assistants. However, Western demand for Taiwan’s products—particularly Man-houng Lin’s (1997) trinity of tea, sugar, and camphor—pushed Chinese agriculture and economic extraction into new areas, heightened tensions between Chinese and aborigines, and linked the island directly to global trade networks. As foreign vessels reached Taiwan’s shores in greater numbers, Chinese encroached on the lands of indigenous groups, who occasionally responded with violence. These latter cases brought greater attention from, for example, the United States in 1867 (Fix & Shufelt, 2012) and Japan in 1874 (Eskildsen, 2002), which forced the Qing government to be more attentive to those areas.

These changes in economic and bureaucratic attention significantly advanced the localisation of Chinese settlers and their efforts to assimilate the indigenous. They ameliorated the intense, often violent divisions between Quanzhou, Zhangzhou, and Hakka Chinese, resulting in a more unified settler society that increasingly devoted itself to local economic production for global markets, with both the involvement and displacement of indigenous groups. More significantly, rather than China’s coastal frontier, Taiwan gained importance in its own right. To resolve the dispute provoked by Japan’s 1874 invasion of southern Taiwan to mete out punishment for murdered fishermen from Ryukyu/Liuqiu, the Qing government formally claimed sovereignty over the entire island, and thus responsibility for all its residents. To express that responsibility, it launched a campaign to ‘open the mountains, pacify the savages (開山撫番, kaishan fufan)’ in 1875, the objective of which was to Sinicise the remaining ‘raw savages’, or kill those who resisted. Finally, Taiwan’s elevation to the status of a province in 1885 furthered the island’s significance and administratively separated Taiwan from Fujian, and Governor Liu Mingchuan’s self-strengthening plans held up Taiwan as a leader in late Qing modernisation (Speidel, 1976). These factors brought new intensity to the trends of assimilation and localisation, while also setting the stage, both locally and geopolitically, for the broader and deeper modernisation and Taiwanisation that residents would experience in the era to come.

From the Era of Taiwanisation to the Taiwanese Era

The period that followed this watershed covered Taiwan’s last decade as part of the Qing Dynasty, the entire length of Japanese colonisation, and the decades of colonial rule by the Nationalist Party (i.e., Kuomintang or KMT). During this era, some people living in Taiwan became Taiwanese, in the sense of extending their primary identification from locality to the whole island, while their abilities to transform the environment were dramatically enhanced by industrialisation and the demands of a global economy. Each regime approached its self-appointed role as moderniser and civiliser, and each demographic group interacted with the state and each other in different ways, as a result of which the process of becoming Taiwanese proceeded unevenly and in varying directions (Friedman, as cited in Heylen & Sommers, 2010). ‘The people’ involved significant new members, first Japanese colonisers (內地人, naichijin), most of whom intended to stay but were forced to leave after World War II, and then Mainlanders (外省人, waishengren), who initially had no desire to remain, but became permanent residents as a result of international and domestic forces. The first were settlers by choice, the latter by circumstance, but what they shared was a position of externality, and a close affiliation with the institutions of political and military power that gave them many advantages over the indigenous peoples and the localised Chinese, who the Japanese called islanders (本島人, hontōjin) and the Mainlanders called provincials (本省人, benshengren).

The central historical narrative of this era was the process of becoming Taiwanese, but it was not a seamless or unified endeavour. 17 The roots that many of the Chinese settlers sunk into Taiwan deepened during the last decade under the Qing and provided a crucial support for their subsequent Taiwanisation. After 1895, their relations with each other, the indigenous, and the successive colonial regimes only accentuated their identity shift from primarily Chinese—or more precisely, regional forms thereof—to Taiwanese by the early 1930s. 18 Initially in urban settings, they relied on economic, social, and professional networks to strengthen a sense of group membership that superseded, but did not eradicate, local, and native-place identities; they sustained a prolonged defence of religious institutions and practices, vernacular language, and other customs to contrast that group from its principal antagonists, the Japanese and Mainlanders; and thus resisted the transformative policies of the ruling states. They drew upon and engaged with the transnational spread of ideas of democracy, citizenship rights, and modern life. They also participated in the economic and industrial transformation of Taiwan as fully as the laws and dominant groups allowed, and thus became essential actors in linking Taiwan to regional and global trade networks, and in altering the island’s ecology through large-scale agriculture and various forms of environmental pollution. In this process of Taiwanisation, from the 1920s onward some imagined an independent Taiwanese nation state, while a majority did not pursue such a fraught political agenda and built instead an ethnic identity. Indigenous peoples who had particularly strong ties to the settlers/islanders/provincials were able to join them in becoming Taiwanese, but many had been so effectively othered for so long that these pathways of identity transformation were closed to them. Moreover, many indigenous groups controlled the changes within their societies, languages, and traditions with some success during these decades. Therefore, as Taiwanisation took place, it did so at first within only one segment of the population, albeit far and away the largest (Chen, 1979).

These shifts in identification occurred within the economic and political contexts shaped by several key features. This included rule by a state in which an external minority ethnonational group held a monopoly on political and military power; policies that consciously aimed to modernise and industrialise the island; the attempted assimilation of Taiwan’s residents to national norms and ideologies; a consistent outward-looking, export-oriented economy; and deepening connections to transnational circulations of people, ideas, and movements. In the first case, ‘external’ was defined primarily for sociocultural reasons rather than geography, because even though the power-holding minorities (Japanese, Mainlanders) became situated in Taiwan, they remained socially and conceptually distinct from the majority of the population. Qing, Japanese, and Nationalist Chinese governments all attempted to assimilate indigenous and/or localised populations through violent suppression, educational policies, restrictions on traditional customs or native languages, and officially or socially enforced participation in national rituals or celebrations, such as worship at Shinto shrines or observances of Double-Ten Day. They also applied different measures of exclusion and delayed the attempted assimilation of the so-called mountain aborigines (高山族, takasgo zoku/gaoshan zu) which accentuated the distinctions between them and those who first became Taiwanese. Although the Japanese and Mainlanders, both civilians and officials, remained highly resistant to welcoming these majorities into their social identity groups, they nonetheless articulated as a primary goal either the Japanisation or Sinification of the colonised populations. From the limited implementation of Liu Mingchuan’s plans through the massive urbanisation and transportation projects of the Japanese era to the postwar reconstruction and development of the Republic of China (ROC) period, major policy objectives included the transformation of agricultural practice to facilitate production for export, improving transit and communications networks, and the creation of varying types of industries. The principal direction of these products and extracted resources shifted from Europe and the United States under the Qing to Japan from 1895–1945, then to China in 1945–1949, and eventually to a broader market thereafter. Except for some import substitution starting in the 1950s, the economic orientation was consistently outward. Politics also consistently looked beyond the island, whether it was the cross-Straits rivalry for control over China, the Cold War division of the globe, or the creation of the Taiwan independence movement primarily among activists who left Taiwan for the United States and Japan (Phillips, as cited in Tucker, 2005).

These developments promoted new parameters for political participation and a new stage in Taiwan’s economic development. Underlying many of these factors was the anxiety that mounted as the ROC lost its seat in the UN in 1971, and then diplomatic recognition by countries large and small over the rest of that decade. The Qing, Japanese, and ROC governments were all authoritarian regimes ruled by a small, mostly unelected group of officials, 19 with some participation by Taiwanese in local governments under Japanese and early Nationalist rule. Beginning in the 1950s, the situation gradually changed, with the incremental recruitment of Taiwanese into the Nationalist Party and the inclusion of dangwai (黨外, non-Party) candidates in local elections. These changes held minimal significance, at best, until the 1970s, when Chiang Ching-kuo instituted a more determined plan to bring Taiwanese into the KMT, dangwai politics contributed to explosive events like the Zhongli Incident of 1977, and the domestic independence movement advanced far enough to become harshly suppressed in the Meilidao Incident two years later. These last two examples principally manifested the power and rigidity of the authoritarian state, but also suggested that democratising trends were approaching critical mass; neither the end of martial law in 1987, nor the appointment of the Taiwanese Lee Teng-hui as president in 1988, or even the formalisation of open elections, came out of nowhere. Similarly, beginning in the 1960s, Taiwan’s economic miracle, with its combination of state management, private initiative, and (according to some scholars) Confucian principles continued the long-standing external focus of Taiwan’s economic activity (Redding, 1993; Wei, 1992), but by the late 1980s it had so dramatically transformed the scale and methods of production in Taiwan, and Taiwan’s status in the global economy, that both bore limited resemblance to what had come before. Here, incidentally, is a clear example of a long-standing Taiwan-focused perspective: no one refers to the Chinese economic miracle on Taiwan. The side effects of that development were the immiseration of many indigenous communities, as incorporation into a commercialised economy damaged their livelihoods and social structures but provided few new opportunities, and an overall degradation of the environment.

Most significantly, the watershed years of the 1970s–1990s saw the Taiwanisation of most of the rest of the island’s people. The population of Taiwanese expanded in two main ways, one through the localisation of a growing portion of the Mainlanders, particularly as the task of ‘liberating the Mainland’ faded from the realm of possibility, the political and social realities of Taiwan and China evolved along divergent trajectories, and generational change reduced the numbers of prounificationists. The bensheng/waisheng divide retains salience for many, but just as happened during the Qing, the new wave of Chinese settlers became rooted in Taiwan (Meyer, 2012). The other way was the complex involvement of indigenous populations. Particularly during the 1990s, indigenous groups openly expressed their identities and interests. Their activism saw the reembracing of long-suppressed plains aborigine identity, growing demands for the recognition of their rights and cultures, and a movement to break down long-standing distinctions between plains and mountain groups in favour of a broader aborigine or indigenous population (原住民, yuanzhumin) (Heylen, Ku, & Wu, as cited in Blundell, 2012; Cauquelin, 2004; Chiu, 2009; Hsieh, 2006; Pasuya, 2012). 20 Meanwhile, Taiwanese independence activists and others at long last made common cause with the indigenous around a number of issues, particularly those related to the environment, political participation, and social justice, as they collectively sought involvement in state governance. They also used the historical presence and influence of indigenous peoples on Taiwan as evidence for Taiwan’s differentiation from China (Brown, 2004; Hsiau, 2000). The identity transformation of both indigenous and Mainlanders indicates the growing salience of Taiwanese nationalism. That is, the particular historical factors that enabled the earlier Chinese settlers to create a Taiwanese ethnicity separate from—though linked to—a national identity, meant that subsequent Taiwanisation could occur only at the national level. Thus, substantial divisions remain between those who became Taiwanese by the 1930s and those who did so only more recently, because participation in that process has been unequal and thus agreement on what it means to be Taiwanese remains elusive. The temporal thresholds in this periodisation scheme are not about completion, but rather about the accumulation of factors, the fulfilment of which often occurs only in the next age. These elements reached critical mass across more than two decades in the latter part of the twentieth century, and thereafter the island and its people entered the Taiwanese Era. Where they will go from there is beyond the purview of historical chronology.

Whither Taiwanese-centric History?

I have proposed an alternate periodisation for a Taiwanese-centric history, built around major divides in the 1650s–1670s, the 1870s–1880s, and the 1970s–1990s, and have outlined why this approach is important for Taiwan studies. However, as I have not yet directly addressed what this periodisation gives us as scholars moving forward, I will take up this question by way of conclusion. At the broadest level, perhaps, it opens the door to other possible periodisations that might be more applicable to transnational, gender, or literary history, to pick a few examples. For general histories, such as survey courses and textbooks, this approach moves us away from political history as the sole framework within which all events occur, and thus facilitates the writing and teaching of Taiwanese-centric social history. Regimes and regime change certainly matter, but for Taiwan they also lock us into questions and interpretations that privilege Chinese and Japanese history—that is, histories that, in a long temporal view, are external to Taiwan—or the contemporary concern with independence. Future textbooks in this vein would be more people-centred than state-centred and would emphasise Taiwan’s multiethnic context rather than its multiple rulers.

Defining the major chronological divisions as bands of time as I have done, rather than by individual years, and locating these divides before (or before and after, in the third case) the major political transformations not only helps to foreground a Taiwanese-centric perspective in general histories, it also allows scholars doing more specialised research to ask and answer different questions. Rather than asking how, when, or if Taiwan became/is Chinese, we can inquire into the indigenous, Chinese, and Japanese contributions to social structures or religious practices in Taiwan. Or, instead of studying the colonial policies of Qing, Japanese, and ROC regimes, we can explore the continuities and discontinuities of popular attitudes towards and usage of litigation or styles of dress, to pick two examples. If we are not bound to one regime, we can discover whether or not there is a particular Taiwanese political culture or Taiwanese philosophy, and if there are, where they came from. Changing the chronology and centring the people also pushes us to acknowledge and explore the subjectivity of indigenous peoples in shaping Taiwan’s history, something that remains a rarity, as evidenced by this essay and much of the scholarship it has surveyed. We can also inquire into the historical implications of genetic research that suggests that 85 percent of the nonindigenous population has some indigenous DNA (Heylen, as cited in Blundell, 2012: 43). How and why was their indigeneity lost only to be scientifically recovered, or how can we view this history in a less bifurcated way? If we combine social history with other thematic and methodological approaches, we can also undertake meaningful research on longue durée environmental history, or the construction of gender identities that transcend the limits of single regimes, or the transnational spread of social movements and ideologies. Finally, this periodisation might allow scholars to break out of the frameworks into which contemporary geopolitics and domestic politics seem to shoehorn the great majority of scholarship on Taiwan: cross-Straits relations and Taiwanese independence. Those are important issues to be sure, with a potentially mortal significance, but they are also restrictive. The periodisation I have proposed demonstrates the salience of other frameworks in Taiwan’s history. If the peoples of Taiwan hold the central space in our research, and we shift our conception of time away from the conventional model, we may find new meanings in the past that are relevant to the present.

Acknowledgements

I am grateful to Chang Lung-chih, Tom Gold, James Dator, and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on this essay, which greatly improved it, and also to Peter Bol, who first made me attentive to the significance of periodisation. None of those people are responsible for any flaws that I have imparted to this essay. I thank Goucher College for granting me the academic leave that gave me the time and intellectual space to write this essay; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the ROC, which provided financial support in the form of a Taiwan Fellowship while I was on leave; and the Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica, which gave me an institutional home.

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1

Romanisation is a complex issue for Taiwan Studies, in part because several different systems have been used in Taiwan over time. I follow common usage for places and personal names, and the now standard ‘Hanyu pinyin’ for Mandarin Chinese in other cases, even though that choice may be at odds with the argument of the essay. Examples of ‘common usage’—such as Taipei, Keelung, or Chiang Kai-shek—are the result of external efforts to transliterate both Mandarin and local languages, as well as the practice of the Nationalist Chinese government on Taiwan, and its supporters around the world, to use Wade-Giles and reject pinyin. It would be more Taiwanese-centric, perhaps, to use either a system developed to transliterate the predominant Taiwanese or Minnan language, or the ‘tongyong pinyin’ that was formulated in Taiwan and was briefly the official system during the early 2000s. However, neither of these options are satisfactory, so I have opted for convenience rather than correctness.

2

I am particularly grateful to an anonymous reviewer, whose comments helped me to clarify my use of this term.

3

I thank Lin Man-houng for directing me to Chen’s work.

4

The Bank of Taiwan began to publish historical materials about Taiwan in 1957, and several of Taiwan’s municipalities also issued the first editions of their gazetteers in the same decade. The Chengwen Publishing Company began reprinting a tremendous quantity of Japanese-era materials as part of a series of Chinese local gazetteers in the early 1980s. These sources have been incredibly valuable to researchers of Taiwan’s history, even if the overall contexts replicate the view of Taiwan as part of China.

5

Other examples could be used, such as the North American Taiwan Studies Association (NATSA), which was founded in the early 1990s, or the numerous institutes of Taiwan history established at Taiwan’s universities a decade later.

6

Shelley Rigger (2011) places Taiwan at the forefront in examining aspects of international relations, but her approach is not comparative in the same way I describe here.

7

The careful delineation and consistent reference to all of the groups within these categories is essential to the practice of Taiwanese-centric history, though not to an essay such as this one, which outlines rather than undertakes research agendas.

8

Indigenous groups are the centre of his first era, and they potentially remain central as a colonised population through the second as well. However, it is not clear that 1988 was as significant for indigenous people as it was for the Taiwanese who engaged fully with the new democratic state.

9

My own forthcoming book is also in this vein, but I reference it here so as not to be seen as evaluating it in conjunction with the work of others.

10

I thank Chang Lung-chih for suggesting this work and the utility of the U.S. comparison.

11

I thank Rebecca Goetz for directing me to this book.

12

I thank James Dator for suggesting this book, and Holt’s above.

13

My description of this century is largely based upon Andrade, 2008; Brown, 2004; Shepherd, 1993.

14

Statistics for indigenous peoples are inexact, since many lived beyond the control of those doing the counting, but Shepherd estimates an indigenous population of 100,000, and a smaller number of Chinese, in 1683. Shaoxin Chen states, in contrast, that the Chinese settler population increased from 100,000 to 200,000 between 1650 and 1680. See Shepherd (1993: 14); Chen (1979: 18).

15

As Mark Elliott (2001) has shown for the Manchus, and Thomas Mullaney (2011) with the creation of minority nationalities in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), many groups can retain their ethnic identifications.

16

I base my discussion here largely on Brown (2004); Cauquelin (2004); Li (2012); Shepherd (1993); Teng (2004).

18

There is a substantial debate over Taiwanese identity formation—its character, content, and key turning points—during the middle decades of the twentieth century, much of which is summarised in Dawley (2009). The formulation in this essay primarily reflects that of my forthcoming book on the subject.

19

The ‘mostly’ is necessary because the ROC held legislative elections in 1948, but that fact does not diminish the authoritarian character of Nationalist Party rule.

20

This list is only a small portion of the tremendous explosion of scholarship on Taiwan’s indigenous populations over the past 15 years, which has been a needed corrective to the long-term silencing of indigenous voices. However, the overwhelming majority of recent work has looked almost entirely at events after 1987, which has the potential side effect of reinforcing the sense that the indigenous groups were tangential to Taiwan’s history before that time. Such a result would be unfortunate to say the least.

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